Monday, October 13, 2008

Habit Forming

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Last night, John and I went to a class at our church on gaining spiritual maturity. By spiritual maturity - they mean learning how to pray, how to have quiet time with God, the meaning of a tithe, and what fellowship really looks like.

Part of our curriculum looked at what it means to form a habit, and since that is such a present topic in my life - I wanted to share some of the ideas with you. I think these apply equally whether you're building habits around your faith, eating, or exercise.

In some cases there will be a Bible verse that ties back to the ideas presented: very cool! I'm linking to the New Living Translation wording in my Bible references.

How to Start and Maintain Good Habits
Step One: Desire
  • You must start with a strong desire.
  • You must be internally motivated.
  • External motivations don't last.
  • If you start only half-heartedly, you will never make it to the success point.

Step Two: Decide

  • Begin right NOW!
  • Don't wait.
  • Don't procrastinate.
  • You don't slide into a new habit.
  • "One of these days" never arrives.
  • You must have a starting point.
  • It's easier to break a bad habit today than it will be tomorrow! (Eccl. 11:4)

Step Three: Declare

  • Announce your intentions publicly.
  • Make a covenant or resolution.
  • The power of a vow is awesome. (Ps. 76:11)
  • It is particularly powerful if you put your commitment in writing.

Step Four: Determine

  • Never allow an exception until the new habit is securely rooted in your life.
  • Each lapse will be fatal.
  • A single slip unwinds many turns at first.
  • Continuity and success at the start is essential.
  • Never be swayed by "just this once."
  • The act of yielding weakens the will and reinforces your lack of self-control.
  • It takes 3 weeks to become comfortable with a new habit and it takes another 3-4 weeks (doing it daily) for it to become a part of your life. *** This is the one that struck me... it takes roughly 7 weeks to form a habit!!

Step Five: Just Do It

  • Whenever you feel the slightest urge or prompting to practice this new habit - DO IT THEN!!
  • Don't wait.
  • Seize every opportunity to reinforce your habit.
  • Those feelings will not last, so whenever you feel inclined to perform your new habit, do so!

Step Six: Double Up

  • Get a partner who will support you and encourage you. (For me this might take a village)
  • Find someone who is willing to hold you accountable and check up on you, especially in the early days before the habit is firmly rooted in your life. (Any takers? Again - a village is welcomed)

Step Seven: Depend on God

  • Rely on God's power to help you establish the habit.
  • Remember, Satan does not want you to develop habits that can help you grow spiritually and make you like Christ, so he will do all he can to tempt you, cause you to slip, or discourage you.
  • Pray!

As we went through this section of the class last night - I found myself thinking of both my spiritual journey in building my relationship with God through quiet time with him daily... but also my struggle to learn to love working out. Both begin this week!